City Commission to review results of community survey on interactions with Lawrence police

photo by: Journal-World Illustration

Lawrence Police Department logo, Lawrence City Hall

The Lawrence City Commission will soon receive the results of a survey gauging the community’s interactions with and perceptions of Lawrence police, but the survey’s methodology has already raised some questions among city staff.

In July, some members of the public criticized the city for not releasing the results of the survey, which had been conducted by Allegro Training & Consulting months earlier. City Manager Tom Markus ultimately decided to release a version of the report that city staff still considered to be a draft, and he said that the city was reviewing the report and contract to determine whether the contract’s terms had been met.

Allegro CEO Beth Clark told the Journal-World on Friday that one question city staff had was whether the survey was statistically valid. Allegro is scheduled to present a summary of the survey results and recommendations to the City Commission at its meeting Tuesday, and Clark said she also planned to present a statistical validation of the survey that she would make available that day.

“I’m not a statistician. I’m not a social scientist; I had volunteers on my team do that work,” Clark said. “So that is a piece that he (Markus) was curious about, was whether or not the citizen survey was statistically valid. According to our social scientists, it was, and we’ll know more about that on Tuesday.”

In 2016, the Lawrence Police Department hired Allegro to complete the survey, conduct a needs assessment of the department and provide recommendations, according to a contract between the police department and Allegro. The city paid Allegro $20,000 for the contract, according to a city staff memo to the commission. In December, the city also paid Allegro $21,200 to conduct diversity training, according to city records.

Regarding the methodology, Clark said the survey was advertised through various methods and organizations, including on bus placards, inserts in city utility bills and via neighborhood associations, the Lawrence Public Library, the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University and Sisters With A Purpose, among several others. The online survey was voluntary and anonymous, and Allegro reports state that 774 survey responses were received.

About 600 of the 774 respondents indicated their race, according to Allegro reports. Of those, 483 indicated they were white, 21 black, 22 Hispanic, 38 mixed-race and 41 Native American. In addition, 92 respondents indicated they were LGBTQ and 75 that they were disabled.

Lori Carnahan, the city’s human resources manager, did not note specific issues the city had with the work Allegro completed. Carnahan said the process began under former Police Chief Tarik Khatib and that it is standard for the city to go back through a consultant’s contract before closing it out.

“This was a contract that was started with Chief Khatib, and we just wanted to make sure that through the transition in staff, that the consultant had met all the parameters of the contract before we actually wrapped it up,” Carnahan said.

Since the July posting of the draft reports, Carnahan said there have been only minor edits to the reports and no substantive changes, to the knowledge of city staff. Clark said no significant changes were made and most of the work done was to condense the presentation materials.

Recommendations

The survey included questions on various topics, including police bias, police interactions and what training or other programs respondents thought the police department should adopt. The full report, survey data and recommendations from Allegro are posted on the city’s website.

More than half of black and Hispanic respondents to the survey said they think Lawrence police are biased against them or their community. Comparatively, only 20 percent of white respondents said they thought the Lawrence police department is biased against them. Overall, people of color, LGBTQ and disabled people who responded to the survey were more than twice as likely as white respondents to think the Lawrence police department is biased against them.

Minority groups ranked their interactions with police lower than the general public. Specifically, LGBTQ, black, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, mixed-race and disabled respondents all ranked their interactions with the Lawrence police department an average of 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest rating and 10 being the highest. Transgender respondents ranked their interactions a 5. The overall average ranking was a 7.

Citizen Survey

(Mobile: swipe or rotate device)


Group (Responses) Overall interactions with LPD (1 to 10) LPD is a positive presence in my community LPD communicates respectfully with my community LPD bias against you/your community Existence of bias by individual officers
White (483) 7 67% 75% 20% 59%
Black (21) 6 39% 57% 52% 74%
Hispanic (22) 6 46% 59% 55% 71%
Mixed Race (38) 6 45% 58% 47% 51%
Native American Alaskan Native (41) 7 52% 56% 44% 65%
LGBTQIA (92) 6 56% 59% 42% 61%
Transgender & Non-Binary (17) 5 59% 53% 47% 60%
Disabled (75) 6 51% 58% 46% 64%
Low Socio (235) 7 59% 67% 29% 64%
High Socio (321) 7 69% 75% 19% 56%

Allegro made various recommendations for the police department regarding multicultural recruiting and hiring, multicultural staff development and multicultural community development. The recommendations include developing a strategic plan for multicultural recruiting and hiring, including strategies for “healing relationships with historically marginalized cultures.” Other recommendations include multicultural training, increased foot patrol and community events where police interact with the public.

Clark said Allegro spent about nine months doing the needs assessment internally with the police department. She said the department is already implementing most of the recommendations that Allegro made to one degree or another. She said there are some additional actions Allegro is recommending the department take.

“(One is to) put together a strategic diversity plan that is very transparent so that your citizens know what you’re doing,” Clark said. “And then another high-level suggestion is to start to do some restorative justice kind of work with communities that have historically been marginalized.”

Three drafts of the needs assessments and recommendations are posted on the city’s website, and they range from about 30 to 60 pages. Clark said that Allegro conducted general diversity training for the police department in December, but that she also recommends the department receive diversity training designed specially for police.

Regarding how the city would use information from Allegro going forward, Carnahan said the department continues to review the recommendations and that data from the report and survey will be one piece of information used in future planning for the police department. She noted that some recommendations are already in place or in development, such as an officer stress and mental health program and the implementation of body cameras.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

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